The Great Burrito Hunt Begins at Don Carlos

    Now, one may think that I “hit the jackpot” by going to school in San Diego, where the burrito-radius is tight enough for a quick fix any time my addiction calls. But I take my burrito consumption very, very seriously. I am not just looking for a burrito, I am looking for the best burrito. Anyone can slap together the basic ingredients and call it a wrap, but who among these has truly perfected the art? Surely not Goody’s, which consistently disappoints me in my hour of hungry need (a bursting, ill-proportioned mess is all I get). No, my search will have to venture past the outskirts of campus. As daunting as this task may seem, I am willing to take it on, for the sake of burrito-connoisseurs everywhere.

    The first stop on my mission is surprisingly close: Don Carlos Taco Shop. Located in the notoriously bougie setting of downtown La Jolla, this simplistic dive sticks out like a sore thumb. 

    So I walk into the shop, bypassing the overwhelming menu options that don the wall, and dramatically ask the owner to give me his best burrito. Without a moment’s hesitation, he gives me the “El Nino,” confidently stating that he’d be “willing to go toe-to-toe with any burrito in San Diego with this one.” Oh no, has my cover been blown before even starting?

    It must have, because Don Carlos was pitching right to me, with some of my personal favorite ingredients making star appearances in this burrito. Inspired by the Philly Cheesesteak, the El Nino (which costs $6.58) consists of carne asada, sautéed bell peppers and onions, with jalapeno jack cheese and pico de gallo salsa. 

    The meat was freshly grilled and incredibly tender, and I was glad to see that it was cut into pretty small pieces, avoiding overwhelming bites of thick, chunky meat. The vegetables were neither too crunchy nor a soft, flavorless mush, so that even if I got a meatless bite I was not left disappointed. 

    Jalapeno pepper jack cheese is my all-time favorite cheese, and so I consider the choice of pepper jack to be a clever and unique addition to the El Nino. It was melted just right, gooey enough to coat the entire burrito and offset the rest of the textures, while adding a mild spice to give it a little kick. The pico de gallo was a great addition as well, though I noticed that it wasn’t consistent throughout, and I felt cheated during the second half of salsa-less burrito. 

    Though often forgotten, the tortilla itself made a significant contribution. Too often have I run into a burrito with a tough, almost crunchy exterior, but this one was pillowy and chewy, adding distinct sweetness to the party. One drawback was the amount of grease in the burrito, which I guess was to be somewhat expected from the generous portion of melted cheese. I actually took a bite from the bottom and watched the orange drippings waterfall into an unappetizing little pool in my foil. I didn’t finish the rest of the burrito after watching that. However, it was undoubtedly a delicious piece of work, and I can understand why Don Carlos is considered such a “community asset.”

    So, as this column explores the ins and outs of San Diego burritos, I will give my honest and humble opinion in hopes of finding my one true love once and for all. It may be a daunting challenge, but if the El Nino from Don Carlos Taco Shop is any indication of my tasty travels to come, I think my heart/stomach will be more than willing to take it on.


    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $5000
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $5000
    Contributed
    Our Goal